Everyone has one squirreled away somewhere behind the Stephen Kings or under a pile of Tom Clancys. It may be one of your treasures or just something you keep to frighten small children with, but you’ve got one freaky book that stands out from all the rest.
Tell us about it.
I’ve got a hardback juvenile SF book. In Russian. Written by a cosmonaut. I don’t speak Russian, so I have no idea what it’s about (space, probably). I picked it up at the 1990 world SF convention in the Hague from a bunch of Russian kids who needed some cash.
I have a book (in Japanese) about ancient road markers of the small, very, very rural town I used to live in. I honestly could not think of a more obscure subject. It’s not such a great read, btw.
I’ve got a few witchhunter’s manuals, including the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, but since they blend in reasonably well with my other works on witch trials in early modern times, I don’t know if they count.
I also have a little volume called The King of Knowledge, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which I bought on the street for $2 for reasons which now escape me. (I have never read it – it’s only just now that I’ve managed to get all the way through the author’s name.)
Why Paint Cats, a photobook of painted cats. The guys in Graphics say it looks legit to them.
I also own the companion volume Why Cats Paint. Not as interesting.
The Last Cat Book by Robert E. Howard, the same guy that created Conan The Barbarian back in the 20’s. Illustrated with the damnest woodcuts you ever saw. It’s too weird for words. And this from a man with a RL rep as a Texas Toughguy.
I own a set (thanks to my FIL who was a geek before geeks were cool) of electronic manuals from the 1930s. Ten books in all, very small, about 6" high by 4" wide, an inch thick including the hard covers. I don’t know exactly why he had them, or why he gave them to us, but we’ve got 'em.
Along the same lines, but just a piece of paper, not a book: I have a copy of the Ten Commandments translated into Egyptian hieroglyphics (sp?) by said FIL’s father. Obscure, and not quite on subject, but too cool not to mention.
Ten or twelve issues of the 1920’s periodical Smokehouse Monthly, which were found in some boxes of my grandmother’s.
They’re funny, in their own sweet way. The same type of thing as Captian Eddie’s Whiz Bang, they were the precursor of comic books.
Funny story. My hobbies have always been various arts and crafts. An old friend of mine, Terry, and I used to go on day trips to look for materials for my projects. He was always on the lookout for thrift store finds, too. One day in a used book store in Danville, VA he brought a book over to show me. It was small, clothbound in navy blue, dating from the 1920s and in very good condition. Stamped on the spine were the words Restorative Art. What neither of us knew until we looked inside was that restorative art describes what embalmers and undertakers do. Lucky for us it was (a) not illustrated with photographs and (b) two bucks.
So if you ever find yourself in need of the proper technique for concealing gunshot wounds to the face, or how to stitch a corpse’s lips together invisibly, you know who to call.
The History Of Torture
A rather scholarly work actually.
To Serve Man-A Cookbook For People
It is indeed a recipe book for cannibals. Autographed by the author, Karl Wurf.
The Smythe Report-Atomic Energy For Military Purposes
Plenty of photographs and diagrams.
Despite some sensationalistic writing(including the title). Much of the information in this book is verifiably true(EG Profumo scandal).
The Angry Clam-
This is done in story book format. Each page is one sentence, plus a very simple black and white drawing of the title character. The clam grapples with philosophy, theology and the meaning of life. All while permanently rooted in place.
The Melancholy Death Of Oyster Boy
Fairy tales by Tim Burton.
I’ve got that too, but it doesn’t really look strange with the other poetry books (and at least two other Tim Burton bboks)
I gotta know, WHAT is the story behind this one?!
As for me, a children’s illustrated copy of Ali Baba y los cuarenta ladrones is the book that probably looks the most out of place on my shelf. Especially because I bought it when I was 24. Now I can’t remember why.
I have a copy of The Origin of Species by Darwin. These books are so old and decrepit (sp) that I’ve only opened them twice since my old boss at the librabry from college gave them to me in 1999.
Probably not worth much money since its damaged by normal librabry use but I keep them 'cause that Lady who gave them to me was the greatest boss you could ever want.
I’ve got Pot Stories from the Soul I forgot who wrote it but I don’t smoke pot so I don’t know why I have it.
There’s also Ostrich by Grahm Thomas. Its funny but it has no point. Or mamby I missed it when the Ostrich stole some guys shiny watch…
The Fuck Up which was titled appropriately and every book I purchased by Chuck Pulanuck, Joseph Heller, Tom Robbins, and the guy who wrote Sick Puppy(I think his name was Carl).
Maybe my whole library is kinda wierd.
I have a copy of the Valerie Solanas SCUM Manifesto on my shelves.
Often cited, seldom seen.
Oh, let me see…
I Was Morgan Fairchild’s Sex Slave
By Stanley Harris
Lesbian Nuns: Breaking The Silence
By Rosemary Curb & Nancy Manahan
The former is fascinating for the fact that the book uses next to NO punctuation at all! My copy is conveniently underlined and highlighted in a seemingly random fashion by the previous owner. It is a book by a crazy person for crazy persons.
The latter is noteworthy only because it appears in the Book Of Lists: The 90’s under the list “A list of books with a very limited appeal”.
I am blessed with the fact that my wife is a librarian, and brings home piles of books from donations that the library is throwing out. You could spend weeks in our personal library just laughing at titles; I have.
The book of execution: an encyclopedia of methods of judicial execution by Geoffrey Abbot
and my favorite “book” is this tiny little 5x4 inch thing called “The longfellow birthday book” it is like a date book with poetry and quotes inside,its from about 1880 and inside people have written their names under their birth dates in the most fabulous old hand writting,all done with old ink well pens. I love it, I got it at an old bookstore for 4$
You’ve probably never seen a copy of A Job for Superman!, the self-published autobiography of serials’ Superman Kirk Alyn.
Robert Gilbert’s Moose Mousse and other exotic recipes is another good one, probably the only cookbook out there with a recipe for Cloven Hooves. And Seared Roebuck.
It’s also been a long time since I’ve seen another copy of Smokestack El Ropo’s Bedside Reader.
Or The Candidate: A Photographic Interview with the Honorable James Durante.
Somewhere packed in a box, I have Do It by Jerry Rubin.
Forgot about this.
This book is dedicated to Damon Knight, who wrote a famous 1950s short story by that name. IIRC, In the story kindly-seeming aliens come to Earth bearing a book called “To Serve Man”. At the end of the story somebody comes up to the ship taking a group of humans away breathlessly calling out that they translated the book - and it’s a cookbook!
Why this pun should work in any other language than English is never explained.
Anyway, Owlswick Press, a science fiction publishing house out of Philadelphia run by famed sf editor George Scithers, put it out in 1976.